The Bruins are coming off an opening weekend sweep – but John Savage said he knows the journey has just begun.
“There are some positive things (about the weekend series), but at the same time we realize it’s a long journey and we have to get better,” the coach said. “We still have a lot to work on going into Loyola (Marymount) and going into the rest of the season.”
No. 4 UCLA baseball (3-0) will play LMU (1-1) on Tuesday night, coming off a series sweep of St. John’s (0-3) in which the Bruins outscored the Red Storm 23-3 across the three games. The Bruins did not give up an earned run over the first 27 innings of the season.
Freshman right-hander Nick Nastrini will have the opportunity to continue that 0.00 ERA mark Tuesday against LMU in his first collegiate start. With Nastrini making the start against the Lions, the Bruins will have started two freshmen in their first four games of the season.
Nastrini made his debut Saturday when he came in for an inning of relief in the ninth, striking out the side.
Junior right-hander Ryan Garcia – UCLA’s presumed ace – is currently out with a flexor injury. As a result, sophomore right-hander Zach Pettway, redshirt junior right-hander Jack Ralston and freshman right-hander Jesse Bergin were all pushed up a day in the rotation over the weekend.
“We did a pretty good job of having the ‘next man up’ and guys were ready to play, ready to pitch and ready to hit,” Savage said. “I thought the awareness and the readiness were pretty good overall as a team.”
Senior outfielder Jake Pries was one of many Bruins to step up over the weekend, as he delivered a pinch-hit, RBI-triple Friday to tie the game at one apiece. Even with an unblemished record and ERA, Pries said the Bruins have one component of their game they are determined to improve: communication.
“(Savage) talked about our communication as a team,” Pries said. “That’s an aspect we can attack in this upcoming game.”
LMU is coming off a series-split against UC Santa Barbara (1-1) due to a rained-out Friday game. The Lions finished fourth place in the West Coast Conference in 2018, going 15-12 in-conference and 25-30 overall.
Since Savage joined the Bruins in 2005, the two Los Angeles-based programs have faced off 13 times, with UCLA earning eight victories and outscoring LMU 57-36. Last season, the Bruins took both contests by scores of 12-1 and 13-1.
The Bruins will have the chance to start the season 4-0 at home against the Lions at 6 p.m.